Things You Didn’t Know About Your Body

Things You Didn't Know About Your Body

The world's most amazing, practical, and powerful health tips for men

NUTRITION
Guzzle — don't sip — water: Downing big gulps cues your body to get it into the system faster.

To lose weight, drink cold water. Your body has to expend extra calories to heat up the H2O in your stomach, resulting in a rise in your resting metabolic rate. In fact, in a 2003 German study researchers estimated that drinking two additional icy quarts a day would help you burn about 100 extra calories — or the equivalent of a pound of fat every five weeks — with no other changes in exercise or diet.

So that's why we like sushi. By simultaneously eating "bad" high-glycemic foods (pasta, rice, etc.) and protein (fish, meat, etc.), you greatly lower the former's absorption rate — and reduce their tendency to be stored in the body as fat.

Eat cheap tuna. More expensive canned albacore "white" tuna has been found to contain as much as three times the mercury of canned "light" tuna.

Why settle for some overprocessed vending machine offering when you can have a second lunch? A whole-wheat PB&J sandwich at 3 pm will keep your energy up until dinner, help your heart with a megadose of monounsaturated fats, and has fewer calories than cheesy peanut butter crackers.

FITNESS
Assuming you're a morning person, a smart way to lose weight is to work out before breakfast. That's because when you don't give your body carbs, more of the calories you burn will come from fat stores. Just stick to a moderate 500-calorie workout and you shouldn't pass out.

Before beginning a workout, drink half a Diet Coke. The caffeine can lower the perceived difficulty of the exercises. And the easier they seem, the longer and harder you'll be able to train.

"Most runners don't warm up as well as they could. Ideally, you want to warm up very slowly (about 60 percent of perceived exertion) for three minutes, then do three very quick intervals in a row — 20-second sprints separated by two minutes of easy jogging. The sprints will get your body used to producing and clearing lactic acid, which will really come in handy once you start to pick up the intensity in earnest." –Chris Carmichael, longtime coach of Lance Armstrong

To simulate outdoor running, set the treadmill incline to at least 1 percent. Running on a cardio machine set to a zero-percent grade is actually easier than running outdoors on flat ground — because there's no wind resistance and less friction.

Never run at a speed that you could walk. Studies of health club members have shown that treadmill runners experience less caloric burn and greater stress on their joints while running slow than when walking fast. The switch-over point: 5 to 6 mph.

SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES
First thing in the morning it's important to listen to Bach or System of a Down or whatever music relaxes you. Your heart attack risk is greatest in the AM — cortisol levels are high and platelets are stickiest — so anything you can do to calm stress will help you avoid ticker trouble.

Statins are frequently hailed as miracle drugs, but they have their limits. A starter dose can lower cholesterol by 40 percent, yet to get the bigger drop many doctors prescribe often requires that amount to be doubled or even quadrupled — leaving patients at higher risk for muscle pain and other side effects. That's where that other wonder drug, Metamucil, comes into play. Before upping your statins, try three unsweetened 1-1/2 tsp. servings of the venerable fiber laxative a day. A study has shown it produces the same drop in LDL as an extra statin, side effect-free.

Starting 48 hours before your next long flight, take a baby aspirin each day. It'll thin your blood just enough to prevent clots from forming in your legs.

Laughter may be the key to life, but it's hell on asthma. A recent study indicates that it's among the most common triggers of asthma attacks (even more common than dust mites and mold). So if Dave Chappelle has been leaving you gasping on the floor, it's a good sign you need to get your condition under better control.

Early Warning Any problems in bed? Still waking up with an erection? How's the rigidity been? Depending on your answers to those questions, you may want to talk to your doctor about scheduling a heart exam. Two recent major medical conferences have held seminars on the use of the penis as an early detection tool for heart disease. It has to do with the parallels between the two popular body parts: The same cholesterol plaque that impedes coronary arteries can also block arteries in the penis. The difference, as you see here, is that penile arteries are a lot smaller, meaning the effects of any blockage are likely to show up that much sooner.

SEX
You may want to take that laptop off your lap. Portable computers can heat up to 158 degrees inside. After an hour, that can raise the temperature of your testes by 3.6 degrees, nearly twice what it takes to harm fertility.

For better sex, crank the thermostat way, way up. Working on the same concept as Bikram, or hot, yoga, this momentary splurge on your heating bill will have you breaking the social taboo of getting sweaty together. Taboo-breaking ups her vulnerability and makes her feel closer to you. Plus, everything will just be a whole lot slipperier.

To get your partner in the mood, turn down the Barry White and feed her Good & Plenty. In a study by noted Chicago smell researcher Dr. Alan Hirsch, women exposed to the scent of licorice experienced a 13 percent increase in vaginal blood flow. That compares to a 14 percent reduction from the scent of barbecue smoke.

In a related study by Hirsch on penile blood flow, topping the men's list was an interesting pairing of lavender extract and…pumpkin pie. The number two slot? Licorice and doughnuts.

If you think yoga is a great way to meet hot women, think again — it's a great way to meet hot, turned-on women. Certain poses, such as the eagle, direct blood flow to a woman's pelvis, increasing sensation, says Rutgers sex researcher Beverly Whipple.

GROOMING
For puffy eyes after a rough night, try this trick long used by hard-drinking Hollywood action stars: Soak cotton pads in witch hazel, freeze until cold, squeeze out the excess liquid, and place on your lower eyelids until you're back to looking the part.

For extra-sweaty feet or underarms, moisten black tea bags in warm water, and apply to the trouble spots for 20 minutes three times a week. The tannic acid calms sweat glands.

Sprinkle Zeasorb powder in your funkiest sneakers. Unlike other foot powders, it doesn't contain cornstarch, which can act as free food for bacteria and fungus ($12; drugstore.com).

If you're prone to foot fungus, put your socks on before your boxers. This will stop the shorts from touching your feet and transferring the rot to your groin.

Antioxidant cream, one of the few non-scam wrinkle treatments, just got even more legit. The antioxidant idebenone, in nonprescription Prevage ($115; prevage.com), was shown in a UC-San Francisco study to be the best antiwrinkle antioxi of them all.

ADVENTURE MEDICINE
Five important medical reasons why you should never enter the wilds without a roll of duct tape:

If you lose your Ray-Bans, it makes for an improvised pair of sunglasses. Simply rip off a foot-long piece of tape and stick it back on itself so it's no longer sticky. Cut two eye slits into the tape and tie string (or a shoelace, cord, etc.) from one end to the other to secure it to your head. The slits will limit the amount of sunlight that gets in your eyes.

If you sprain your ankle, you can wrap the tape in the same pattern as you would an ACE bandage to immobilize the joint.

If you injure your knee, you can duct-tape a sleeping pad (assuming you brought a sleeping pad) around the knee and then slightly inflate the pad.

A small piece on top of corns or calluses creates a smooth foot surface, preventing them from becoming blisters and cuts.

After cleaning a wound, you can make closure strips with quarter-inch-thick pieces of duct tape.

MISCELLANEOUS
The next time you feel a cold coming on, slice a raw garlic clove, let it sit for 10 minutes, then eat; allicin in garlic is a formidable virus killer.

For the perfect pillow: At the bedding store, stand with your back against a wall in a comfortable posture. Place a candidate in the gap between the wall and your head. If the pillow pushes your head too far forward, it's too thick for your skeleton. If your head falls too far back, it's too thin.

All "waiting to see if it'll go away on its own" does for a headache is guarantee it will stick around. You'll have a much easier time if you treat a headache within the first half hour. And use ibuprofen — it's more effective than aspirin or Tylenol.

Instead of shelling out $2,000 for an ergonomic desk chair, try a $1 roll of paper towels. Unroll until the roll fills the gap between your lower back and your old desk chair. Tie it in place with string. This will maintain your spine's proper S curvature and decrease back pain.

Don't use hydrogen peroxide to clean a wound. Those bubbles are caused by a chemical reaction that kills important cells you need to heal. Instead, just opt for soap and water.

For the complete list of "99 Things You Didn't Know About Your Body" pick up the August 2005 issue.

Contributors: Nancy Clark, Martin Prosky, Larry Sperling, Walter Willet, Dave Grotto, Philip Jaffe, Andrew McCullough, Stanley Mohler, Timothy Rupp, Julio F. Gallo, Yvonne K. Fulbright, Michelle Ebbin, Lana Holstein, Karen Burke, Christopher Van Tilburg, Thomas K. Bond, Wilderness 911 by Eric A. Weiss, Jeffrey L. Halbrecht, Ken Zafren, Michael Bonnet, 3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life by Joseph Weisberg, Michael Holick, Suzanne Meth, Alex Zimmerman, Ingrid Tarjan, Peretz Lavie, Leslie Bonci, Richard Milsten, Monique Ryan, Bob Anderson, Jay Blahnik, Martin Rooney, Peter Josling, Paul Auerbach, Dave Tate, Kelly Kane, James Underberg, Samia Mora. Special thanks to John McMullen Lemery.
(August 2005)

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